Reclaiming Common Sense

(Dec 1) The first of the month means that this column publishes an article covering the ten most popular columns of the previous month. Sometimes there is a week in review column or a month in review column in the top ten. Sometimes we have columns form other months or other years that garner considerable attention. This month the top ten columns were exclusively focused upon employment and unemployment issues. This month the top ten column addressed the employment and unemployment numbers. A surprise re-entrant into the top ten, at the number one spot, was "The Era of the Meme" from  August of 2015. This column was the genesis for the "Four Presidents at ___ Months" series.

(Dec 2)  Friday was Jobs Day. Shocker, we added NSA part-time jobs, lost NSA full-time jobs, and saw the unemployment and participation rates fall. Where the ADP report was pushing over 200,000 "jobs" created. This column was anticipating under 150,000 SA Private Sector workers (Current Employment Statistics - CES) added.If they had used the seasonal factor (2012 factor) projected by this column we would have seen 146,000 jobs added. The article "Non-plus November Jobs Report" started to dig into the numbers behind "the number."

(Dec 3) Week in Review

(Dec 5) There have been a number of articles written and statements made regarding the "Obama Economy." Has he really created more jobs than President Bush, Clinton, or Reagan, at the same point in their Presidencies? Is the unemployment rate really under 5%? "Four Presidents at 94 Months: Fake Unemployment Rate" examines the number of unemployed workers and the number of full-time and part-time jobs created by the four Presidents. This column takes jab at those who saw articles like this one are "fake news."

(Dec 6)
Not all recoveries are equal. This recovery is incomplete. The Bureau of Labor Statistics allows a person to measure changes in employment across eleven sectors. We have seen an incomplete recovery in the retail market. We have seen an incomplete recovery in the housing market. It should come as no surprise that we have seen incomplete recoveries in various sectors of the economy. Right now there are "Five Sectors with Fewer Jobs than November 2008." Contrary what you heard from the white House Press Secretary, we have lost 812,000 manufacturing jobs since November 2008. We have also lost jobs in the Mining and Logging sector, the Information Technology Sector, the Construction Sector and the Government Sector. We have more jobs in the Financial Sector than we had during November of 2008. The problem is that there are fewer jobs in this sector than we had during 2006

(Dec 6)
If this recovery is so good why aren't we seeing it in a stronger Gross Domestic Product? The GDP is an indicator of growth in the economy. We have been growing at an annual, same quarter, rate of under 3% a year. This is not good. Something else that is not good is that we are seeing a "Record Level of People Working Two Part-time Jobs." This is nothing new. We have either seen a record level of people working two jobs or a record level of people working two part0time jobs virtually every month this year. We have over 8 million people working two jobs right now. This elevated level of dual job holders has kept the unemployment benefits level low - If you lose one job, you still have another.we had 2.3 Million people working two part-time jobs this past month. This is the highest recorded level of two part-time job holders since records started being kept.

(Dec 7)
December 7th marked the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. There are many more well versed authors on the topic than I am. Wednesday marked the day that two more articles were written for this column. The first column was another level of analysis on the jobs report. There have been numerous commentaries on the "War on Women." What would you say if I told you that there has been a "War on Men?" The article "Men Working 1.1 Million Fewer Full-time Jobs Than July 2007" examines the employment and unemployment data, jobs, and participation by gender. Men are working  2.4 million more part-time jobs than July 2007. Women have more full-time jobs and more part-time jobs than they had during July 2007. July 2007 was the peak of the pre-recession jobs market.

(Dec 7)
The media has been making hardly a mention, as a whole, regarding the weekly unemployment claims number. This is the time of year that claims start to increase on a regular basis. This week of the year tends to see a spike in both continuing claims and first-time unemployment claims. The column "Scrooge Spike in Unemployment Claims Coming Tomorrow" explained how this is normal and to be expected.

(Dec 8)
The Employment Situation Report also includes data broken down by age groups. The article "Aging Workforce Can't Retire" examines the employment, unemployment, and participation data for those 16 years and older. There has been a shift in the employment sector. We are seeing workforce participation increasing in those 60-64 years of age, 65-69 years of age, 70-74 years of age, and 75 years and older.We aren't seeing the overall participation rate dropping because Baby Boomers are retiring . We are seeing the participation rate lower than it was prior to the recession because people under the age of 60 are participating less.

(Dec 8)
This Thursday the weekly unemployment claims report was released. There was a spike in the first-time unemployment claims recorded and  a drop in claims reported. There was a spike in continuing claims recorded and a drop in continuing claims reported. "Scrooge Spike in Unemployment Claims" goes into the details of the non-seasonally adjusted data.

(Dec 10) Week in Review

(Dec 12) This week started with two forecast column, both focused on the housing industry. Monday's column addressed New Home Construction data and the New Home Sales data for November. This week we had the release of the new construction data. The forecast column "Will New Home Data Build on Recent Activity" examined the starts, under construction, and completions data. It was thought that Starts could improve over last November, that the Under Construction data would continue to climb, and that completions needed to exceed 90,000 units to keep pace with its current activity. It was also projected that we would  see roughly 45,000 units sold during November.

(Dec 13) The second real estate forecast column dealt with the Existing Home Sales data. The column "Will November Existing Home Sales Slow, again" noted that we had a November post-recession peak of 385,000 units during November of 2012 and had only sold roughly 350,000 units each of the past three Novembers.It was also projected that the November 2016 Average Sales Price might not exceed the November record of $270,900 because the month to month prices tend to decline from October to November even though they have been increasing November to November.

(Dec 14) The "most anticipated" report of this month was probably the Monthly and Annual Retail Trade Survey (MARTS) report for the month of November.  How did we do on "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday?"How did we do compared to last year and last month?  "Mixed Message November Retail Numbers"  digs into the revisions to the September and October data, a net reduction of $166 million dollars between the two months, and how we are seeing weakness in the Electronics an Appliance Sector.

(Dec 15) Another report that was received tepidly was the Consumer Price Index (CPI) Report. There was inflation of 1.8% year over year. WE saw the majority of the inflation impacting shelter costs. We also saw a spike in various medical costs, including health insurance."November CPI: Inflation for Eating Out" dug into the data and found that there was deflation for eating at home and inflation for eating at restaurants. This received very little attention. Coupled with the Retail Report from the previous day where we saw a drop in eating out month to month and an increase from November 2016 to November 2016 there were some very mixed messages.

(Dec 16) Friday saw the release of two columns. The New Home data was better than expected - and yet it was given a lukewarm reception .The "New Construction Data was Better than 2007-2015, Not Great" reveals that there was a higher level of single family starts than we saw last November. The Under Construction data was over 1 million units, again. The completions data was the highest we have seen since 2008.The new home starts and completions data are trending with levels we last saw during 1983 and 1992.

(Dec 16) The Fake Unemployment Claims report was released on Thursday of this week. It is released every Thursday when it doe not fall on a holiday. The first-time claims number could have been reported higher or lower. The continuing claims data, non-seasonally adjusted, dropped below 2 million, again. "Unremarkable Unemployment Claims Numbers" has links to other columns that explains that the under 300,000 claims streak never really started and ended last month. 

(Dec 17) Week in Review

(Dec 19) We have seen our unpatriotic and irresponsible debt nearly double under President Obama. He took office with just over $10 trillion of debt. We have $19.938 trillion in official debt. The article "November Taxes Down - Spending Up" examined the monthly Treasury report and found that, once again, corporate taxes are down, individual taxes are up, and spending is up, as well. It also details how we are no longer seeing gasoline savings.

(Dec 21)
We saw some data that impacts most of us at some time during a decade, housing sales data. The first report released was the existing home sales data. "Existing Home Sales Surge - Still Lag Behind 2003" examined the data, not the report.We really did see the best level of November Existing Home Sales data during the past ten years. The problem is that this is still a level of sales over over 10% less than November 2006, and 20% off the peak of 2005.

(Dec 22)
The Thursday unemployment claims report accentuated the difference between the seasonally adjusted and non-seasonally adjusted data. The authors of the report believe that we have had 94 consecutive weeks of SA FTU Claims under 300,000. We have not. We have had three consecutive weeks of NSA FTU numbers over 300,000.

(Dec 24)
The second housing data report we received this week was the November New Home Sales data.The authors of the report reference a hypothetical annual sales pace looking out one year. Not even Realtors forecast their own personal sales out one year. Once again, the report indicates that we are seeing the best level of sales that we have seen during the past nine years. The problem is that we were at near historic lows so this improvement is necessary. The only way to go was up.  "November New Home Sales Contradictions" explains how the average sales price is down from 2015 and 2014, that the units sold are trending under 600,000 units, and how it will take us at least a year until we return to 1983 and 1992 levels of sales.

(Dec 24) Week in Review

(Dec 29) Thursdays, except for Thanksgiving and other Major Holidays,  is the release day for the weekly unemployment claims report. They still write and publish that report even if very few headlines are made of the numbers released.  First-time unemployment claims have been rising for four weeks. Continuing claims have been rising for two weeks.The article "Fake Unemployment Claims Drop, Real Unemployment Claims Rise" digs into the numbers and shows that the official number could have, and should have, been reported higher. It also includes a link to the four part  series that dispels the "First-time Unemployment Claims Streak" FACT (False Assertion Considered to be True." Ironically, we have had four weeks of non-seasonally adjusted weeks of first-time unemployment (FTU) claims over 300,000 and the FTU Streak for seasonally adjusted FTU claims restarted four weeks ago.

(Dec 30)
There has been some discussion in the media that forecast columns and jobs predictions are a bunch of wasted time and effort. Does the ADP number really matter? (This column has written numerous articles that say "no.")The thing is  "everyone knows" that we need 200,000 seasonally adjusted "jobs" added to the economy every month to keep up with the monthly workforce population growth. "Everyone knows" that there is a difference between private sector "job" growth and "non-farm payroll" growth. And "everyone knows" that the data is seasonally adjusted. Does everyone realize that there are two distinct data sets used to create the monthly report - the Current Population Survey and the Current Employment Statistics data?  Does everyone realize that the data that is released is the advance data plus the preliminary data for the prior month and the "final" data for the month prior to that? The President has been touting a "private sector job creation streak" for years. The article "Potential Real Dec Job Loss Converted to fake Worker Gains" analyzes the data for both data sets and finds that we should experience full-time job losses even though they will report full-time job gains, both unemployment and participation should fall, and that the president's "jobs streak" may have a chance to end, even though they control the seasonal factors, so we know that that is not going to happen. It also includes links to the May, June, July, August, September, October, and November Jobs report articles that reveal that the Jobs Streak did not begin when they say it did, it may have ended during January 2015, it did end during May of this year, and the data has been skewed high this year.

(Dec 31)Week in Review. The first column was published on January 1, 2014. If you ignore the simplicity of the column, this first column points to the direction where it has headed. The idea was that as a writer I was anxious regarding the direction the country was heading and where we would be during 2016.

It took a while to set up the format of the columns. Early during the creation process it became apparent that a daily column would be ideal, until such time that the readership grew and I could moderate to 3-5 columns a week. I knew I did not want to work seven days a week, so I created the week in review column. The first Week in Review Column was penned February 22, 2014 with the column "Numbers, Numbers Everywhere - Whose Do You Trust?"

This column has published roughly 30 columns a month since its inception The week in review columns created interest in various topics long past their initial release. It wasn't Until April Fools' Day that the idea of a Month in Review Column became self-evident with the Release of "March's Top Ten  Stories by What you Are Viewing - Selling the Internet and Lying with Statistics."

This worked very well for the remainder of the year. Daily columns, weekly columns, and monthly columns.became normal. The inevitable annual column was published: "Top Ten Columns from "Reclaiming Common Sense" during 2014." The most popular article ever written, to date, was "Federal Debt - Mortgaging Our Future - $117 billion Monthly Mortgage Payment." It used the monthly mortgage payment for a $200,000 home a vehicle of comparison for a $20,000,000,000,000 debt. It supposed that we have a 10% down payment, a $180,000 mortgage, Private Mortgage insurance , and calculated the monthly payment at $117 billion a month for 360 consecutive months. We owe $17.954 Trillion on November 24, 2014. . We owe $19.938 trillion as of the most recent Treasury Report released this month.It is interesting to note that the top column for 2015 was the "Mortgaging Our Future" column from 2014.

Next Up - The Top Ten Columns of December and The Top Ten Columns of 2016